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How to Visit Maldives on a Budget?

by Parastoo Sahebi
11 minutes read

The stunning archipelago of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean is renowned worldwide as a luxury tourist destination. However, in recent years, the Maldives has also welcomed travelers on a smaller budget. In this article, we are going to check the ways to visit Maldives on a budget.

Ever since the first tourists started walking on the pristine coral sand beaches of the Maldives in the late 1970s, the country has developed an image around the world as an exclusive collection of private islands affordable only for the privileged few.

It wasn’t until 2008 that self-funded travel to the country became truly possible, when the Maldives’ first democratically elected government lifted the rules that required all foreigners to stay in resorts. The change allows licensed locals to open guesthouses on so-called ‘local islands’.

The Atolls where the Maldivians live, unlike the independent resorts, each of which is practically a private island and located in almost complete isolation, makes it possible for everyone to travel to the Maldives on a budget. The Maldives is an incredible combination of stunning beaches and crystal clear waters for diving that offers tourists an unforgettable experience.

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Tips on Budget Travel to Maldives

In this section, we will explore ways to experience a budget trip to the Maldives.

Do Not Go to the Maldives During the Peak Season

The Maldives is at its cheapest to travel during the southwest monsoon, which begins in May and ends in October. This time coincides with the Northern Hemisphere summer. As this is the wettest season of the year in the Maldives, guesthouse prices can drop to half of the high season levels, and while it can be cloudy and humid this time of year (especially in June and October), Thanks to the year-round tropical warmth in the Maldives, you never have to worry about the cold weather.

Since accommodation prices peak from the beginning of December to the end of February, you can experience a budget trip to the Maldives if you can plan outside of this time frame.

Choose Your Flight Carefully

The only way to get in and out of the Maldives is by air unless you have your own yacht. The remoteness of the islands means that flying to Malé will never be cheap, although average fares have thankfully come down in recent years. Decent tickets can be booked using charter airlines such as Condor or Edelweiss, while low-cost Indian airline Go First now offers direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi. However, having a stopover or two along the way can significantly reduce the cost of your plane ticket.

Stay in Guesthouses instead of Resorts

Finding the right guesthouse is the best solution for a budget trip to the Maldives. Even the fanciest guesthouses cost significantly less than luxury resorts. These guesthouses on local islands welcome you and offer a variety of food, drink, and entertainment options – which means the freedom to choose restaurants, choose your dive crew and compare prices based on your own budget.

Travel Like a Local

MTCC ferries, the government’s public transport system, are a great – if not super fast – way to get around the Maldives, with tickets costing next to nothing. On a dhoni (Maldives multipurpose sailboat), you will have plenty of time to sunbathe as the boat slowly makes its way to your island. With just a few dollars per ride, you can save money on a budget trip to the Maldives compared to the expensive speedboats or airplanes that most resorts use.

Choose the Right Island

The further away you are from the crowds and other tourist sites in the Maldives, the more you will pay to get there and stay. On busier islands with cheaper guesthouses, the competition for tourist dollars is fiercer. As a result, you’ll find the widest choice of restaurants and entertainment on these islands, as well as better public transport to Malé and the airport.

The most popular island for a cheap trip to the Maldives is Mafushi, although the increasing number of visitors has certainly made it lose some of its appeal. Other popular islands full of guest houses that are worth visiting and staying in are Dhigurah, Fulidhoo, Tulssdhoou, and Rasdhoo.

Stay on One Island

Island hopping around the Maldives will take days and cost a lot. Even if you can find great accommodation deals, you may find that getting from one atoll to another can be quite expensive. Savvy tourists know that to experience a budget trip to the Maldives it is best to spend the entire trip on one island – or split your time between different islands within the same atoll that are connected by a regularly scheduled MTCC ferry.

Book a Dive in Advance

If diving is your main reason for traveling to Maldives, look for the best diving package before your trip and plan the rest of your trip accordingly. Many guesthouses that cater to divers offer generous discounts for booking packages. This allows them to manage their own diving programs and get the most out of the dives.

Get a SIM Card at the Airport

Since roaming charges can be significant if you use your phone’s internet outside of Wi-Fi hotspots, you’ll save money by getting a local SIM card when you arrive at the airport. For less than $10, these SIM cards are usually enough to last you a few weeks. If they run out of charge, you can recharge in the coral islands and have a budget trip to the Maldives.

Bring Your Own Snorkeling Gear

Many guesthouses provide guests with masks, snorkels, fins, and other non-motorized water sports equipment at no extra charge. However, it’s a good idea to make sure that this is possible at your accommodation before you book. If this is not possible in your guesthouse, you will save a significant amount by bringing your own gear.

Bring the Necessary Items with You

You may not be able to find the supplies you need in shops in the Maldives. While high-end resorts include every possible luxury for their guests (at a high cost), finding even the most basic items on the local islands can be a challenge.

Malé, the national capital and the only real city in the Maldives, has the best selection of goods in its shops. But by bringing everything you need with you, you will save time and money on the trip. However, you should avoid bringing alcohol as the Maldives is a Muslim country and the authorities will confiscate this item upon entry.

Eat on a Budget in the Maldives

In many local guest houses in the Maldives, meals are served free of charge to guests. But even if you go to a hotel or guest house that does not have such services, you can enjoy a delicious meal at a reasonable price by visiting the small restaurants that have been built in the local islands of the Maldives.

In the local islands of Maldives, a series of coffee houses are built, where, in addition to coffee, a variety of foods, sandwiches, and noodles are served at a price of about 4 to 5 dollars.

Budget Entertainment in the Maldives

Usually, the owners of guest houses in the local islands of Maldives plan interesting entertainment programs for their guests in the form of one-day tours. If you participate in one-day tours of these guest houses, you can experience the exciting life in the Maldives, such as diving or fishing, at a very low cost.

If you want to experience the same entertainment in luxury hotels in the tourist islands of Maldives, the costs will be much higher. In addition, you can ask the local fishermen and boatmen of Maldives to accompany you for fishing or island tours by agreeing to pay a certain amount.

Book a Tour of Maldives

You can have a budget trip to Maldives by choosing last minute Maldives tours. Another advantage of traveling to the Maldives with a tour is that the tour guide will accompany you on this trip and this will make the trip easier for you. In this way, you don’t have to waste time finding the sights and entertainment of the islands.

Average Daily Budget Required

  • Double room in guesthouse: 60-100 USD
  • Inexpensive double room in a hotel: 150-350 USD
  • Ferry ticket: 5-10 USD
  • Dinner for two on a local island: US$20
  • Diving: 50 to 100 US dollars

Best Accommodation for a Budget Trip to the Maldives

To reduce the cost of traveling to Maldives as much as possible, try to avoid large hotels, and resorts – while you may be able to find budget holiday packages in some cases, in general, by choosing to stay in a smaller local guesthouse you will be saving the most.

For a budget trip to the Maldives, you’ll find options in all price ranges, with simple but clean private rooms a few blocks from the beach starting at around $30 per night. Below are some popular accommodations available in order to experience a budget trip to the Maldives. Check out these great options!

Stingray Beach Inn

Located on Mafushi Island – the best island for a budget trip to the Maldives – Stingray Beach Inn is a great option for budget travelers. Rooms are usually less than $50 in low season and around $75 even in high season.

Rooms are modern and comfortable, and the inn has a fantastic rooftop bar, plus an indoor cafe and patio. This residence is just a few steps away from the beach. Also, the presence of various shops and restaurants has made this place a great destination to experience a budget trip to the Maldives.

Kaani Grand Seaview

If you are looking for a stay in Maafushi with more amenities, try Kaani Grand Seaview; One of the largest hotels in Mafushi, with a variety of rooms, incredible ocean views, and a large stretch of private protected beach with white sand and crystal clear water.

It’s a great place to access all that Mafushi has to offer travelers looking for a budget trip to the Maldives that is stylish and luxurious at the same time.

Thundi Guest House

Beachside Thundi Guest House is a hidden gem in the Maldives; So it’s better to book your trip before all the other tourists hear about it. This guest house is located near Mafushi, on a small island in Fulidhoo. If you want to escape from the backpackers in Mafushi and have more privacy and peace while sticking to a low budget, we recommend Thundi Guest House. The hotel staff is extremely friendly and polite, and the ocean view from every room is stunning, and the food is very delicious too.

Plumeria Maldives

On Thinadhoo, a small island known for its stunning beaches, the Plumeria Maldives is a great hotel with all the amenities you’re looking for, but at low prices that make a budget trip to the Maldives possible.

Plumeria Maldives is a luxurious four-star hotel that makes the most of the incredible beach, with a lovely private pool, fitness center, and superb spa, among other great amenities. The island is accessible by ferry, hotel speedboat, or seaplane, so you’ll have plenty of transportation options.

Bliss Dhigurah

If you are looking for a luxurious and private island on a budget, Bliss Dhigurah is one of the best places to stay in the Maldives. Bliss Dhigurah is a small boutique hotel located on Dhigurah Island, one of the most stunning islands in the Maldives, and a swimming destination.

The hotel is just steps away from stunning beaches and offers special packages and prices throughout the year to help guests save even more.

Final Word

When you imagine a trip to the Maldives, you might think of lying outside in an overwater bungalow, gazing out at the sapphire-colored ocean while the hotel staff brings you colorful drinks. Traveling to the Maldives is indeed the epitome of romantic luxury, and of course, it costs a lot.

Accommodations cost hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars per night – and that’s not even including food! For many people, Maldives is an unattainable dream. While the Maldives is known for its luxurious resorts and stunning beaches, there are also ways to travel to the Maldives on a budget.


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